Since the #MeToo movement started, so many women (and some men) opened up about their stories of harassment and sexual abuse. The fact that this was such a widespread occurrence led to different topics being discussed. From harassment in the workplace to the way we speak about different genders , people who want to tell their stories and people who want to learn and help achieve equality have focused on many topics. One of these topics, especially discussed among men, is consent. Be it the comment sections underneath articles about topics such as consent, when women talk about bad encounters or #MeToo movement in general, I see men saying things like “Is there anything we can do without being labelled as harassers?” or “How can we date now?”.
It becomes apparent that these recent developments have shocked many men in the world. I don’t know if this is because they didn’t know that harassment and rape culture is this widespread or because they don’t know what consent is. For me, the former has always been obvious – maybe because I have a lot of female friends and I heard about their stories for years. To be frank, you don’t even need to hear these stories to understand about this culture; simply pay attention to women getting catcalled in the streets, observe them being second-guessed at work just because of their gender, or you can listen to the news on sexual assault on women (not to say this does not happen to men, but there is a higher percentage of assaults against women). The latter, a lack of understanding of what consent is, is the bigger problem I think - and it is important to talk about what consent is.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word ‘consent’ describes the permission for something to happen. Let’s break the definition down and use an example outside the world of gender equality, shall we? Imagine you want to sell a house and you find a buyer. You get a good vibe from these buyers and you go for a drinks together. At the end of the night, you get drunk. Making use of this, the buyer makes you sign a paper which says the house belongs to them now. Then, you wake up in the morning and see that your house is not yours anymore. They took it from you. Is it true that you wanted to sell it? Yes. Is it also true that you were thinking of selling it to them before you got drunk? Also, yes. However, were you in control of all your mental faculties at the time they had you sign this so that you actually agreed to do this? A big no! Now, how does this example apply to #MeToo?
Most of the time, I see men complaining how if they have intercourse with someone while the woman is drunk, it is ok because the woman said “she wanted it before she got drunk”. Yes, that might have happened. She might have met you with that sole purpose even – but you cannot assume that just because she wanted to be with you an hour ago, she still does. Human emotions float like waves and they can change from one second to another, which brings us to another point: the fact that she gave you her consent one time, or several times, does not mean you have her consent for eternity. She might have changed her mind or she might not feel like it at a later point in time, regardless whether she is drunk or fully conscious .
So, what should you do? The answer is simple – just ask. If you want to do get close with them, just ask if it is what they want, also. If they are not in a mental state where their judgement might be affected by external factors such as alcohol or they had a fight with someone or they lost someone in their life, it might be better not to engage in anything. Just imagine, as a man: can you always make good decisions and not regret them afterwards after drinking a lot of alcohol or when you are angry or when you are very sad? I hardly think that any men will say ‘yes’ to this. Still, even then: ask the person for their consent.
Another question I see from men online is “Can we even talk to women anymore?”. Well, it should not be this complicated, right? You should talk to women the way you talk to all other people in your life, i.e. with respect. If you want to talk to someone at a bar because you want to get to know them, just go and talk to them in a respectful way. A good way might be “Hey, you seem nice and I would love to get to know you if that is ok.”. A bad way is “Hey, I think you are hot and I want to take you home!”.
In the aftermath of #MeToo movement, we are going through so many discussions and consent and how it affects dating life is one of them. It is crucial to talk about this topic because there are many who don’t know. My suggestion to men who struggle to understand what is right and what is wrong is this: as long as you are thoughtful and respectful towards women, and as long as you ask for their consent and wait for their approval before attempting to get close, you should be good to go.
Cenk Türkoglu is a guy who is trying to learn and support women in the fight for gender equality. Also writes, paints, annihilates atoms, etc.
Cenk Türkoglu ist ein Kerl, der versucht über den Kampf für Geschlechtergleichstellung zu lernen und Frauen* zu unterstützen. Er schreibt, malt, vernichtet Atome und mehr.